The 59th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights
(Geneva, March 17 to April 25, 2003)
NGO Joint Statement (Final version)
Geneva, March 25, 2003
1. We, the undersigned Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in consultative status with the UN Economic Social Council (ECOSOC), condemn the illegal invasion of Iraq by the United States of America and United Kingdom which began on March 20, 2003 without the clear mandate of the UN Security Council and against the vast majority of global public opinion.
2. We call for the immediate cessation of the act of aggression launched in the name of a ‘pre-emptive war’ which is a grave threat to international peace and security. We call for the resumption of the UN arms inspection, in order to complete its task as mandated by the UN Security Council.
3. We fully agree with the UN Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan, that “any unilateral military action without the approval of the UN Security Council is a violation of UN Charter” and we urge the Security Council to address this issue as a matter of grave concern.
4. The international human rights community has consistently denounced the human rights violations committed by the Iraqi regime over the years, but it is also deeply concerned about the plight and suffering of Iraqi people caused by twelve years of severe and unjust sanctions imposed on their country. The question of human rights violations in Iraq will be considered by the 59th session of the Commission under the relevant item of its agenda.
5. We firmly believe that military action cannot be a solution to such violations and cannot be justified under the pretext of protecting human rights or restoring democracy. Military action necessarily imperils all other human rights, specially the right to life. This is not acceptable. Human rights should be implemented by just and peaceful means based on principles of rule of law, universal jurisdiction, non-violence, universality and indivisibility and interdependence of human rights.
6. We call for a universal ratification of the Rome Statutes of the International Criminal Court (ICC) as an appropriate way to address gross human rights violations. This would have a much stronger deterrent effect and would more effectively ensure the protection of victims of human rights violations.
7. We are convinced that we have to look for ways to increase the effectiveness of human rights mechanisms at the national and global levels that would have prevented this catastrophic event. Only genuine democracy built on the principles of human rights can only safeguard peace and security. Peace without human rights, and human rights without peace are both empty illusion.
8. We are deeply concerned that the ongoing military action has used up resources that are desperately needed to meet the global challenges facing humanity, such as poverty eradication as outlined in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted by all members States at the Millennium Summit in September 2000.
9. The UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR), as a UN Charter-based body, has a duty to uphold the human rights principles enshrined in the UN Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, especially in this emergency situation. In this context, the CHR is challenged to deal with the human rights and humanitarian dimensions of the current crisis in Iraq. In doing so, the principle of interdependence between peace, democracy, development and human rights needs to be taken into account.
10. We strongly support the efforts currently under way by many governments to call an emergency session of the UN General Assembly on the Iraq based on the resolution 377(A) (1950) entitled “Uniting for Peace” since the UN Security Council was unable to agree on a course of action.
11. We, the undersigned NGOs in consultative status with ECOSOC under Article 71 of the UN Charter, also have an obligation to uphold the human rights principles enshrined in the UN Charter as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
12. In view of the above statement, we urge the Commission on Human Rights
i) to condemn the invasion of Iraq as a violation of the UN Charter,
ii) to hold a special sitting within the 59th session of the CHR as soon as possible to address the current crisis from the human rights and humanitarian perspective, (if it has not been agreed)
iii) to formulate preventive measures based on human rights principles with a view to preventing similar occurrence in the future and
iv) to ask the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to undertake all other necessary measures including independent enquiry about the human rights situation in Iraq since the invasion.
List of singatories – both ECOSOC NGOs and civil society organisations – as of 12:00 pm (Geneva time) on 28 March 2003
1. International Peace Bureau (IPB), Geneva
2. International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), Geneva
3. International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples, Geneva
4. Pax Romana ICMICA, Geneva
5. Women International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), Geneva
6. World YWCA, Geneva,
7. World Alliance of YMCAs, Geneva
8. World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women, Geneva
9. Soka Gakkai International (SGI), Geneva
10. Taiwan Association for Human Rights, Taiwan
11. National Commission of Justice and Peace, Pakistan
12. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
13. Peace Camp, Philippines
14. WALHI / Friends of the Earth Indonesia
15. Think Centre, Singapore
16. Dhaka Ahsania Mission, Bangladesh
17. Korea Women’s Associations United, Korea
18. Sarangbang Group for Human Rights, Korea
19. Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Thailand
20. Peoples’ Watch – Tamilnadu, India
21. International Young Catholic Students Asia, Philippines
22. International Young Christian Workers Asia/Pacific, Hong Kong
23. Association for Life Learning in Taiwan
24. Jingpo Nationalities Studies Association, China
25. Leaders and Organizers of Community Organization in Asia (LOCOA), Philippines
26. Korean NGOs Asia Center, Manila, Philippines
27. Women’s Rights Action Network Australia
28. American Association of Jurists, New York, USA
29. MINBYUN-Lawyers for a Democratic Society, Korea
30. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
31. Ulsan Solidarity for Human Rights, Korea
32. People’s Movement for Human Rights Education (PDHRE), USA
33. International Young Christian Student (IYCS), Africa, Kenya
34. International Movement of Catholic Student (IMCS), Africa, Kenya
35. World Young Christian Students (WSCF) Asia/Pacific, Hong Kong
36. Centre for Organisation, Research & Education (CORE) MANIPUR, India
37. Cardijn Center for Development, Philippines
38. International Movement of Catholic Student (IMCS), Africa, Kenya
39. CETIM – Centre Europe-Tiers Monde
40. Public Service International (PSI)
41. International Young Catholic Students (IYCS), France
42. Centre tricontinental (CETRI), Belgium
43. German Forum on Human Rights
44. Joint Committee for Migrant Workers in Korea
45. Korean Lesbians Gays Bisexuals Trangenders’ Coalition for Human Rights
46. People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, Korea
47. Solidarity For Peace and Human Rights, Korea
48. Citizens’ Solidarity for Human Rights, Korea
49. Solidarity for New Society, Korea
50. Centre for Human Rights and Development, Mongolia
51. International Movement for Fraternal Union Among Races and Peoples (UFER)
52. Friends of Asia, Korea
53. Internatioanl Association of Democratic Lawyers
54. Centro Bartolomé de Las Casas, Peru
55. Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND), Philippines
56. National Campaign On Dalit Human Rights (Ncdhr).India
57. People’s Education For Action And Liberation (Peal) – Tamilnadu, India.
58. Development Solutions,Caada
59. Human Rights Forum for Dalit Liberation (HRFDL-TN), India
60. Tamilnadu Women’s Collective, India.
61. Asian Center for the Progress of Peoples, Hong Kong
62. Social Work Student South Australia
63. Catholic human rights committee, Korea
64. Peace Trust, India
65. Sri Lanka Association of Professional Social Workers, Sri Lanka
66. Human Rights WAtch – Andhra Pradesh , India
67. International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW)
68. International Alliance of Women
69. Australian Association of Social Workers
70. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, India
71. Johor-Melaka Dioces Campus Ministry Team, Malaysia
72. Penang Diocese Campus Ministry Team, Malaysia
73. National Federation of Social Educators in Denmark
74. Afghanistan Commission for Human Rights, Afghanistan
75. Centre for Dalit Human Rights, Jaipur, India
76. Catholic Professionals of Kenya, Kenya
77. Chang Fo-chun Center for the Study of Human Rights, Soochow University, Taipei
78. Rights and Democracy – International Center for Human Rights and Democratic Development (ICHRDD), Canada
79. Seongdong Community Center For Health And Welfare, Korea
80. Suwon Migrant Workers Center, Korea
81. Dasan Humanrights Center, Korea
82. Paul-Émile Charland o.m.i.
83. Cape Town Justice and Peace Commission, South Africa
84. Karoo Centre for Human Rights, South Africa
85. Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust, South Africa
86. Teresian Association
87. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia), Thailand
88. Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)
89. Conselho Federal de Servico Social (Federal Board of Social Service), Brazil
plus Austrian Association of Social Workers, Vienna, Austria
and Association of Social Workers in Turkey
More to be added…